I always used to dread the holidays when I was still a full-time aviation journalist. Why? Because the hunt for news always came to a dead stop as folks were more focused on their shopping than the aviation/aerospace industry. But there was plenty of news last week, so let’s get to it.
- Every December, Aerospace Industries of America holds its annual industry forecast luncheon at the iconic Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. It’s where all the players in aviation, aerospace and defense come together for cocktails, lunch and a forecast delivered by President and CEO Marion Blakey. U.S. aerospace and defense sales continued to grow in 2011 and will see only a modest decline in 2012, according to the Aviation Week story on the forecast.
- When American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Nov. 19, I did a blog post on it over at the Reynolds Center blog. One of the things I mentioned was that we’d probably see layoffs and service cuts in the months ahead. What I didn’t mention was the re-start of chatter over further airline consolidation. In this Bloomberg story, Delta CEO Richard Anderson did mention the “C” word, becoming the second airline executive — after US Airways CFO Derek Kerr also mentioning consolidation in an interview in the Wall Street Journal.
- Speaking of American Airlines, there have been a lot of analysts and pundits offering their two cents on what the Chapter 11 filing means. But none has done a better job of it than my friend Mike Boyd, founder of aviation consultancy Boyd Group International — and Terry Maxon of the Dallas Morning News’ Airline Biz blog agrees. In the 11-page report, Boyd’s take on a possible merger is as follows: The potential for a merger with US Airways is no more or less likely (and no more attractive) than before the filing.
- Congress has been obsessed lately with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). For example, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has introduced H.R. 3608, which would prohibit screeners from being called officers and stop them from wearing uniforms with badges. This isn’t really a big deal to me in the general scheme of things. But what IS a big deal is Rep. Chip Cravaack’s (R-Minn.) bill that gives expedited security checkpoint screening to military personnel traveling on orders has cleared the Senate and now goes to President Obama for his signature, according to Minnesota Public Radio. I am the daughter and granddaughter of Air Force officers, and I always thought it was ridiculous that soldiers who were putting their lives on the line for America should have to unlace their boots and go through the same screening as civilians. Kudos to Congress for this rare show of both common sense and bipartisanship.
- Bill Swelbar is a Research Engineer in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s International Center for Air Transportation. He also writes the excellent Swelblog, and last week, he did a great post on the prospects for airlines and airports in 2012.
Be sure and go over to the Aviation Week website to see the winners of the magazine’s 20th annual photo contest. You can see some amazing photos from the winners and finalists in the Commercial, General, Defense and Space categories. And please help me with my new Wednesday column, Rolling Aviation Thoughts, which covers my crazy aviation/airline thoughts floating in my head or guides you, dear readers, to links to other random stuff that isn’t big enough for a full blog post, but is still worth pointing out.
We’ll end the week with a poll. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on TSA to create a passenger advocate position as reports of “inappropriate screenings” by two elderly passengers (both of whom are from New York), reports The Hill’s Transportation blog.