Tag Archives: 737

Random Aviation Photo

23 Feb

Back in July 2008, I was attending an airports conference in Chicago. As part of the conference, we got to take a great tour of Chicago Midway Airport.  I saw a lot of the Southwest Airlines fleet there, and I was lucky enough to get a snap of two Boeing 737s, including the one dedicated to the State of Maryland.  Enjoy!

Random Aviation Photo

26 Sep

Back in April 2008, I was speaking at an event hosted by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.  As part of that event, our hosts took me, along with a nice group of airport communicators, on a tour of their facility.  Nothing makes me happier than trolling around in the underbelly of an airport, the parts the traveling public normally doesn’t get to see.

The shot below was taken in Terminal B.  A United Airlines Boeing 737 sits at the gate, waiting to make its turn.  Enjoy!!

My Top Five Aviation Stories This Week

9 Sep

It was a rainy, dreary week, but the news marched on.   And so will I, with my picks for my top stories.

  1. Surprise! The Boeing 737 MAX was not a surprise to Airbus, writes my Aviation Week colleague Guy Norris.  “Airbus says Boeing’s decision to develop a re-engined 737 rather than an all-new aircraft was a predictable lower-risk move, but believes the European manufacturer’s head start with the A320NEO puts it in pole position for market dominance,” he writes.
  2. 10 years after the 9/11 attacks and nearly 10 years after Richard Reid attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami using a shoe bomb, we are still required to take off our shoes at airport security checkpoints.  But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, with Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano telling NPR that airline passengers in the future will no longer be instructed to remove their shoes at airport security checkpoints. I’ve traveled the world, and only the USA still requires shoe removal.
  3. The Wall Street Journal’s Scott McCartney looks at 10 years of airport security, noting that “the costs of increased transportation security run to tens of billions of dollars a year world-wide, and authorities still are groping to close obvious vulnerabilities a decade after the 2001 terrorist attacks.”
  4. In airline WiFi news, Delta Air Lines used its blog to announce that it was putting Gogo inflight WiFi on all 250 of its Delta Connection regional jets.  And in related news. Gogo released this cool infographic on mobile WiFi usage in the air.
  5. And finally, US Airways CEO Doug Parker chats with TheStreet.com’s Ted Reed on how his airline has changed since 9/11. Parker had just become CEO 10 days earlier.  And the Dallas Morning News’ Airline Biz Blog published my 9/11 story, here.

Do you live in Chicago or will be there by September 25? I encourage you to go to the DuSable Museum of African American History to check out the exhibit Black Wings: American Wings of Flight.   The exhibit uses a narrative arch that uses the Tuskegee Airmen as a jumping off point to tell the untold story of African American aviation in the last 65 years.

I hope you all have a great weekend!!

Quick Trips Across The Pond-Well Worth It

30 Aug

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

Budget Travel magazine last week did an interesting poll: Are quick trips abroad worth the travel time?  Having done many of them myself, I say yes, wholeheartedly.

Having worked for 2 airlines and being friends with those still working for different carriers, these little 1 to 3-day trips are just the tonic I needed for a change of scenery.

Me, clinging to the side of the Eiffel Tower skating rink

Back on Dec. 18, 2004, I heard a story on NPR describing how an ice skating rink had been built on the second level of the Eiffel Tower.  One of the people they interviewed mentioned that he made the trip over the weekend, because he was an airline employee.

At the time, I was working for Delta Air Lines, and my friend Stevie was working at US Airways, so we decided to leave Friday night and come back Sunday afternoon.  Paris was unusually warm for January, and we had a grand time ice skating.

Continental Airlines Boeing 737 Lands at St. Martin Photo by Benet J. Wilson

Later in the month, we had an unusual cold snap in Atlanta, which led to me and Stevie, along with some other airline geek friends, to fly down to St. Martin overnight.  The trip was so quick I didn’t even have to pay the departure tax.

We hung out at the Sunset Beach Bar for some truly amazing planespotting and I even managed to get a bit of color.  The bar is right across the street from the airport.  If you’re an airplane enthusiast like me, this place is Shangri-La, because the planes literally are less that 20 feet above the beach when they land. And when they take off, the freaks are usually hanging horizontally on the fence or across the street on the beach, all to catch the jet wash.

You haven’t *lived* until you’ve stood on the beach as an Air France Airbus A340 takes off. Brings a whole new meaning to the word exfoliant!!

So I throw the question to you — have you done quick international trips? Where? And why?

Random Aviation Photo

29 Aug

I’m on the West Coast this week, so I thought I’d go through my Flickr archives to see what was in the SFO tag.  I found this shot, taken in July 2009, of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 tail at San Francisco International Airport.  Enjoy!

Guest Post: Air India Is At A Crossroads

26 Aug

Editor’s note: kids, your Aunt Benet is taking the day off.  We’re going to do a post that’s a bit different.  Our guest blogger, Steven Frischling, of the Flying With Fish blog, offers a look inside Air India, which was recently rejected for membership in the Star Alliance (the best alliance in the world, in my opinion). Despite its obvious assets, the flag carrier continues to flounder in a highly competitive global market.  Fish explains how this happened and how the carrier might be able to turn things around.  Enjoy!!

Air India is an enigma wrapped up in a conundrum with all the potential in the world … yet it keeps tripping over its own feet.

As Air India is licking its wounds of rejection by Star Alliance after a three-and-a-half year courtship, the airline has installed the former Ministry of Aviation Joint Secretary Rohit Nandan as its new Chairman & Managing Director, a step in the right direction … if Air India can go in the right direction.

It is easy to point out Air India’s flaws, there are many, and many seem nearly insurmountable, but on paper Air India has unlimited potential to be a strong and successful airline. A brief look back in Air India’s history reveals that the airline was once a world-class airline, viewed by passengers and the industry as a top-tier airline to be emulated.

Air India Lounge at JFK Airport Photo by Eugene Dimarsky via Flickr

Air India’s reputation as a highly respected airline can be traced to the roots of another airline, Singapore Airlines. Early in Singapore Airlines’ history, the now Five-Star airline turned to Air India for consultation on establishing a superior customer experience. Based on initially on Air India’s model, Singapore Airlines is now renowned for its stellar customer experience and Air India has become renowned for its inferior customer experience.

Somewhere between October 15th 1932 when Air India first took to the skies and now the airline lost its way. The airline’s problems are frequently blamed on the Government of India, however the government has been in control since August 25th 1953. It is hard to overlook it now, but it was a Government owned Air India that became the envy of all airlines around the world on June 11th 1962 when it became the first airline in the world to opera an all jet aircraft fleet.

So … forget mismanagement and labour issues, ignore the estimated daily operating losses of US$4,794,520, put aside last years US$1.75-billion fiscal losses, pretend Air India didn’t just become the first airline in history to be rejected from an alliance it was invited to join and don’t factor in the fact that the airline is bloated and woefully compartmentalized …  just for a moment focus on the future and what Air India has to offer its passengers, its employees and of course its nation.

Airline hubs follow the same motto of retail shops, Location, Location, Location and Air India’s hubs in Mumbai and Delhi are geographically situated in ideal locations to be strong global hubs for international connections, as well as handle the substantial traffic to, from and within India.  Air India competes day in and day with Gulf rivals in the UAE and Qatar, this competition isn’t only for global traffic, but passengers traveling to and from India, many of whom are from India.

If Air India can wage a campaign, back up by its staff’s actions to win back its domestic passenger base and cap its leak to directly competing airlines, the financial implications for the carrier are significant. Good customer service should be a priority, but good customer service pushed as a brand initiative to win back the lost masses, offer short- term and long-term benefits.

Air India jets at JFK Airport Photo by Benet J. Wilson

Any airline with its sights set on a global market requires a sizable fleet. While many of Air India’s direct competitors are first building their fleets, Air India already has a sizable fleet in place and existing order to significantly increase the fleet’s size.  Air India’s fleet of 99 current aircraft range from the Airbus A319s to the Boeing 777s (200LR and 300ER variants) with every potential capacity gap covered in the middle, as well as three more Boeing 777-337s joining the fleet and an additional 27 Boeing 787-837s.

The Boeing 787s are scheduled to begin joining the fleet before the end of 2011.  An advantage in Air India’s favour is the age of its fleet, averaging 9.5 years old, their fleet has a lot of life left in it before aircraft must be replaced, reducing future fleet expenses and lowering potential MRO expenses for older aircraft.

From a domestic tactical stand point Air India is better suited that its Indian rivals for moving passengers where they need to go through its 15-year-old regional airline, Air India Regional inherited from Indian Airlines during the merger if the two airlines. Air India Regional may be small, with just 11 aircraft, a mix of ATR-42s and CRJ-700s, with an additional 14 A320s joining the fleet in the near future, but unlike its domestic competitors, Air India already has its foot in the door with regional service and the ability to expand this service with a relatively low investment into the subsidiary.

Along with Air India Regional, Air India has attempted to fend off low-cost carrier competitors through Air India Express, a wholly owned subsidiary. Air India Express’ fleet of 21 Boeing 737-800s makes the airline competitive, especially if it can differentiate Air India Express from the rest of Air India, while leveraging its network and operations to feed its mainline international traffic.   Air India Express has had some difficulty separating itself from Air India, but the low-cost carrier has begun to challenge a rival low-cost carrier in the UAE, Air Arabia, by establishing an Air India Express base in Dubai.  Many Indian travelers choose UAE based airlines over Air India, so this move is a small step in the right direction for Air India as a whole company to seek to regain some of the passengers they are bleeding to competitors.

 

Air India Route Map

Lastly … what is an airline without a route network?

Air India’s route network is a significant positive factor in the airline’s potential to survive, grow and regain its place amount top-tier carriers. Air India’s current route network includes more than a dozen Gulf Region destinations and 24 international destinations on five continents, in addition to its extensive domestic route network. In addition to the airline’s current destination, Air India has extensive unused fifth freedom rights between Europe and North America and elsewhere in the world. Granted, in some instances Air India made a wise decision to reduce or eliminate its fifth freedom flights, such as its New York (JFK)London (LHR) flights, which was usually a full flight, the options to revive certain routes may prove to be lucrative to the airline.

Along with Air India’s unused fifth freedom routes, the airline posses many dormant route authority options. As Air India adds additional long haul aircraft to its fleet the flexibility to revive previously popular routes, such as from the west coast of the United States, advance Air India ahead of its domestic competitors, as well as a number of its regional competitors in terms of providing non-stop or one-stop service to destinations other are not serving directly.

Now, outside of the passenger side of things, Air India has many options, many of these options are through joint ventures. One example of Air India’s joint venture financial potential commences operations in 2013, when Air India is scheduled to open its new 50 acre MRO facility in Nagpur as a joint venture with Boeing.  With MRO outsourcing being a highly competitive and profitable business unit for other airlines, this joint venture can be very successful provided the airline’s management and the Government stays out of its business.

All Air India has to do now is the hard stuff … restructure everything about how the airline operates, build harmony among its staff, develop a single corporate brand personality and completely restructure the airline. The up side to all the hard stuff is that once Air India finds its path to success, it already has everything it needs to leave its competition in the dust.

While many see an airline on the path to ruin … I see an airline that needs to find a way to tap its unlimited potential.

Happy Flying!

-Steven Frischling

Flying With Fish

@flyingwithfish

GUEST POST: Seattle is a Major Aviation Hub of the World

14 Jul

Editor’s note: I’m on vacation this week, so I have some of my aviation/airline/travel geek friends doing guest posts here this week. So next up is aviation blogger David Parker Brown. I met David back in May 2009 when AirTran did a special flight — complete with a live video stand-up on the Today Show — to show off its new inflight Wi-Fi service. He created the website AirlineReporter.com, where he writes about things that interest him. Below is his homage to all things aviation in his home town of Seattle. Enjoy!

Since I was a child, I have been interested in aviation and especially airlines. For me, flying is still a magical experience and should be celebrated. I feel extremely lucky to have been raised and still live in the Seattle area; I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. With so many places to relish aviation history, Seattle is a must-visit destination for any aviation enthusiast.

In 1916 Boeing started building aircraft in Seattle and today the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 are still built in the greater Seattle area.

Visitors can head north to Paine Field to watch a Boeing 777-300ER, 787 Dreamliner or 747 Dreamlifter take off or head down south to Boeing Field to watch Boeing 737s take test flights and be prepared to be delivered around the world. I don’t think there is another place you can view so many different airline liveries.

Boeing Factory Tour: Go inside the Boeing factory, which is the largest structure in the world based on volume. See the 777, 747, 767 and 787 in different stages of production and learn about the history of the company.

Future of Flight: The Boeing Factory tour leaves from the Future of Flight and a visit to the gallery floor is included with your tour ticket. Learn about the technologies used in aviation and explore the future. Be sure to get up on the Strato Deck to get an amazing view of the airport and maybe catch a plane or two taking off.

Museum of Flight: They have one of the best collections of aviation, ranging from World War II aircraft to space station modules. Be sure to check out their airpark, which houses the very first Boeing 747, an old Boeing 707 Air Force One, a British Airways Concorde and more.

Museum of Flight Restoration Center: The museum is located at Boeing Field and the Restoration Center is located north, at Paine Field. Get a behind the scenes look at how they restore the aircraft and get to meet the volunteers who work on the aircraft.

Flying Heritage Collection: This is Paul Allen’s, co-founder of Microsoft, collection of vintage aircraft that have been meticulously restored. They are beyond museum quality and they all can still fly. There are story boards and videos around the facility to put the aircraft and technology into perspective during the timeframe the aircraft were made.

Historic Flight Foundation: Located at Paine Field, Historic Flight lets you get close to the old aircraft housed in their hangar. Not only can you touch the aircraft, you can watch them fly during their set schedule and even take a ride on a B-25D called Grumpy.

Scenic Flights: After looking at airplanes, you might get the urge to get up in the air. If you have never taken a sea plane ride, this is the time to do it. Kenmore Air will take you on a tour of the greater Seattle area or you can take a ride up to the San Juan Islands to enjoy the weekend.

Yes, we might get a lot of rain in Seattle, but it is actually quite sunny near the end of summer (at least it is supposed to be). Of course there is a lot more to Seattle than just aviation, but that is for another story.

Random Aviation Photo

11 Jul

Today’s post will be my only one this week.  I’m on vacation, going to the family homestead in San Antonio.  I hope you enjoy this week’s guest bloggers.  Meanwhile, here’s today’s photo.  There’s a park near my Dad’s house that’s on the final approach to San Antonio International Airport. So while my daughter and Papa are climbing the rock wall, I’m snapping away. Below is a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet that hit the frame perfectly.  Enjoy!

P.S. Today is my birthday!!

Top Five Interesting Aviation Stories

27 May

Ah, we all lived to tell the tales of another week in the wild and wonderful world of aviation.  I had so many choices for this week’s top five it was hard to decide. So here goes!

  1. All of us true aviation geeks have been following the Boeing 787 Dreamliner since it was an idea in the head of company engineers.  The aircraft has had its problems coming to market, which is why we were all glad to see this story at AviationWeek.com by my colleague Leithen Francis: “ANA 787 Validation Flights Starting Soon.”
  2. Ah, summer. Time to hit the road and try and cash in some of those frequent flyer miles you’ve been hoarding all year.  But not so fast.  You may want to read this Wall Street Journal Middle Seat blog post ranking the airlines on frequent flyer seat availability.  SPOILER ALERT! No surprise, Southwest Airlines ranked number one for seats available (love you, Rapid Rewards!), while US Airways and Delta were at the bottom of the list.
  3. USAToday.com contributor David Grossman is filling in for our good friend Today In The Sky columnist Ben Mutzabaugh.  On Wednesday, he did an interesting post on cities chasing air service throw out subsidies to get it.  After writing about and working for a regional airline, the awful truth is when the money runs out, most times., so does the service, kids. Sad, but true.
  4. My airport soul sister Harriet Baskas (of the great Stuck At The Airport blog) has a fascinating article over at MSNBC.com on how Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport handled 10,000 stranded passengers after severe hail storms delayed hundreds of flights.  And I could have been among those stranded had I been on the delivery flight of American Airlines’ first Boeing 737-800,  as reported by our Twitter friend @AirlineReporter (aka David Paul Brown).  But if I was going to be stranded in any airport, I’d want it to be DFW, and I tell you why here.
  5. I’m not a big professional basketball fan (but love me some college hoops), but I have watched a few games in the playoffs.  I know that American Airlines has two arenas (in Dallas and Miami) bearing its name, and this article on CNBC.com explains just how much that’s worth to the Dallas-based carrier, especially if the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat face each other in the finals.

I must put in a quick plug for my day job.  Aviation Week has partnered with Airbus to create the cool Ultimate Guide to the Paris Air Show iPhone app. My colleague Rupa Haria blogs about it here.

On the media side, you can catch me in two interviews:  with Paula Williams of Your Marketing Co-pilot and with Dan Webb of the Airplane Geeks (I’m on first) for the Bits & Pieces podcast episode.

Speaking of the Geeks, I’ll be hanging out with them at the Become a Pilot Family Day and Fly-In June 18, 2011, 10 a.m. – 3p.m., at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center next to Washington Dulles International Airport.  Max, Rob, Dan, and David will join Milford and Charlie from FlightTime Radio to broadcast live from the museum.  If you’re in the area, please come out to see us.  You never know what kind of swag we might have to give away!

And last — but not least — Strange But True Aviation News is back after a week hiatus.  We’ve got someone trying to master his domain inflight, we see what happens when TSA holds a terrorist drill and forgets to tell a key party and more guns at airport security. Enjoy your long weekend!

Too Fat To Fly? There’s Got To Be A Better Way

20 May

I know, I’m stepping into the overweight people on airplanes — again.   For those of you who don’t know, I’m a woman of size myself.  But I do fit into an airline seat.  You can see my March 3 post that outlines my views fully here.

So I was watching the “Today Show” earlier this week, and was subjected to another too-fat-to-fly-on-Southwest-Airlines story, featuring a woman named Kenlie Tiggeman.  The video is below.

I applaud Southwest Airlines for having a policy for people of size on their flights.  My problem is that it seems to be implemented on an arbitrary basis, despite having a pretty good Q&A on the policy.  I do understand that one woman’s fat is another man’s average size.

It can be difficult — and uncomfortable — for thousands of Southwest Airlines employees to make that fat-or-not call.  And it gets particularly sticky when a passenger of size has flown one segment without incident, like Tiggeman, then is confronted with the policy.

So here’s my question — we have overhead baggage sizers at check-in counters and gates.  Can’t we have something similar — or even something as simple as a tape measure — to ensure people of size can be checked early in the process?

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