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Monthly Archives: February 2006

ATA is Out of Bankruptcy Leaner and Meaner

AtaATA Airlines has received approval by the federal bankruptcy judge to emerge from bankruptcy today. ATA was the 10th largest airline when it went into bankruptcy, but has reduced its fleet and tightened operations as it looks to be better prepared for the ultra-competitive airline marketplace. With a 120 million dollar cash infusion by MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners II, the company hopes to have the capital and resources to compete profitably in the low cost carrier landscape.

The Indianapolis-based airline and parent company ATA Holdings Corp. have scaled back their fleet of jets, slashed destinations and cut by half their labor force since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2004.

Only time will show whether ATA will be able to successfully redefine itself as a niche carrier amid turbulent economic times that have forced at least seven airlines into bankruptcy proceedings in the past three years.

“The longer-term issue for ATA is that they have to turn a profit and they have to be consistently profitable or else they won’t survive in this business,” said Michael Miller, an aviation analyst with Washington, D.C.-based The Velocity Group. “You can’t just be a low-cost airline. You have to be a profitable low-cost airline.”

ATA’s emergence plan — which focuses on such destinations as Cancun, Los Angeles and Las Vegas and includes an increase in military charter business — was approved by a federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 30. via the Chicago Tribune

Cruise ship illnesses Increase Even as Ship Environmental Scores Improve

ConstellationIf you are  planning on going on a cruise, a new report shows you have a 1 in 20 chance of coming down with a diarrheal illness. This is an increase of 9 times over a previous study in 2001. While not thrilling news for cruise goers, the silver lining is showing that Cruise ships are doing a much better job keeping the ships clean with an average environmental score of 95 out of 100.

Researchers led by Dr. Elaine Cramer analyzed cases of gastroenteritis reported on cruise ships calling at U.S. ports during a four-year period.
The study showed gastroenteritis outbreaks per 1,000 cruises increased overall from 0.65 in 2001 to 5.46 in 2004. However, ship environmental inspection scores were high during the study period, with an average score of 95 on a 100-point scale.
Noroviruses are the likely suspects, said Cramer, medical epidemiologist with the Vessel Sanitation Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
‘We suspect that people are probably coming on board with the virus,’ said Dave Forney, chief of the CDC`s Vessel Sanitation Program. ‘On a cruise ship, people are out and about in very public areas, and so we have this depositing of the virus on various surfaces that then would be easily picked up by others.’ via Monsters and Critics.

Hooters Air Update: Still No Word

It looks like the fate of Hooters Air for Gary, Indiana is still up in the air. When Hooters Air cancelled all of flights in December, they were promised Hooters would be back flying in March. Now heading into the last week of February, there is no word when service will return to Gary. They are also still not taking reservations for Columbus, Ohio, Nassau, Bahamas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

And while this is going on, the city of Worcester, Massachusetts is working with Hooters Air to come to their underused airport. Company officials say they are unable to discuss the negotiations at this time.

Skybus, The Next Low Cost Carrier?

SkybusIn an interesting announcement, the Mayor of Columbus Michael Coleman presented a new airline Skybus that is planned to begin flying in 2007. The Skybus Airlines website does not offer much information but  an email address, a physical address, a board of directors and leadership team, and an image of their planned aircraft.

Being based in Columbus, Ohio and obviously a low cost carrier, the company looks like it hits some of the criteria for success in todays marketplace. I am baffled that a City Mayor would announce the arrival of a new airline. There are many hurdles to cross in getting an airline started before announcements that the airline will change the future of a city as large as Columbus.

We will follow the story of this company as time goes along.

Also on Coleman’s agenda was the announcement of a new hometown airline set for take off in 2007. “We will be launching Columbus’ first airline, Skybus,” beamed Coleman. By providing direct flights to more locations, it has the potential to create hundreds jobs here in Central Ohio.

“It will help us attract more businesses to the city as well as potentially increase conventions and tourism,” said Elaine Roberts of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.  But with many airlines struggling, the plan may sound risky. It’s a chance, Coleman says, the city is willing to take.

“If we don’t begin to shed our fears and start doing things that will make a difference in our city, then we’ll never get there,” Coleman added following the address.

WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio: Transportation a Big Ticket in State of City.

Venezuela delays Ban on Delta and Continental to End of March

ContinentalDeltaVenezuela’s announcement at the end of last week that they were banning Delta and Continental Airlines from their country March 1st was unexpected for the airlines. Through negotiations Venezuela has decided to postpone the banning, but these airlines future is at risk.

Venezuela’s National Aviation Institute says the measure was pushed back for a month after the airlines protested the sudden announcement.
The ban announced last week would have barred flights starting March First by Houston-based Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines, and restricted flights by Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines.via WKTN.

Canadian Couple Murdered at Mexican Resort

Domenico_ianieroDomenic and Nancy Ianiero were murdered at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, an hour south of Cancun in Mexico while attending the marriage of their daughter. That would be a be a story unto itself. But vacation murders are never simple it seems like these days.

Domenic Ianiero, 59, and his wife, Annunziata, 55, were beginning a two-week vacation and attending the marriage of one of their two daughters in an exotic tropical ceremony along with 16 friends and family.

They arrived Saturday at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, a sprawling, all-inclusive resort about an hour’s drive south of Cancun along a stretch of white sand beaches that draws tens of thousands of Canadians each year.

Within 36 hours, they were lying in a pool of their own blood, their throats expertly slit from ear to ear, police said.

It was a killing performed by someone who was sure of hand and purpose, the gashes identically deep and clean. (Toronto Star, February 23rd)

BacaloresortThere are strong indications that the couple were murdered by three female guests staying on the same floor of the hotel and murdered hours before these guests left to return to Canada. There were footprints that had blood on them that lead from the Ianieros room to the room down the hall that had residue of blood on them.

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Japan Air Rage Incident, With No Punishment

JapanairlinesWe all must remember some times it is a different world. In Japan, a passenger was told to turn off his cell phone and assaulted a flight attendant. In the United States the person would have promptly been arrested and be facing many federal charges.

In Japan, all it took was an apology and the plane went on its way. Amazing.

The departure of Friday’s JAL Flight 1864 bound for Haneda Airport was delayed for about one hour.
According to JAL, the man in his 30s refused to stop e-mailing on his cell phone despite a flight attendant’s repeated warnings, even after the aircraft started taxiing.
Though he finally turned off his cell phone, he went to the galley area and grabbed the flight attendant by the collar, saying: “Don’t come out of here again. I hate seeing your face,” and spat at her.
After being informed of the incident, the captain decided to return to the terminal. Flight attendants removed the man from the plane, but as he promised to behave, allowed him to return to his seat. via the DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).

Louisville – It is More Than the Kentucky Derby

If you are looking for a getaway, Louisville, Kentucky is a great city to visit. It is famous as the home of the Kentucky Derby, but there is much more to do in Louisville. Fine restaurants, top quality arts and theaters can fill the evenings, and Louisville also has some excellent museums for the day.

Churchill downsBut the city does revolve around the first weekend in May when the Kentucky Derby happens. If you are unable to get to the city, Churchill Downs does offer a wonderful tour of the track and it’s Derby Museum.

The Louisville Zoo is a fun afternoon. They have over 1,300 animals to see with a new Gorilla Sanctuary that has recently opened.

Louisvilleslugger_museumThe Louisville Slugger Museum also provides a great experience for the baseball fan. You can even get a personalized bat on your trip.

If you enjoy bourbon on occasion, the Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge is your place to visit. They offer over 60 different bourbons to taste and it has been referenced as an experience to remember (or try to) by bourbon lovers.

To learn more about Louisville, visit the Louisville Visitors Bureau.

Delta and Continental Banned From Entering Venezuela

Venezuela has been doing erratic things recently as a nation with their President Hugo Chavez, but the most recent one has aviation experts shaking their heads. On Thursday,  Francisco Plaz, President of the National Aviation Institute, informed Delta and Continental that they were not welcome to fly into Venezuela starting March 1st, 2006.

Speaking late Thursday, Plaz said that the measure, which also will restrict American Airlines flights, was taken because the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency had established a similar ban on commercial jets registered in Venezuela 10 years ago due to safety violations.
The ban would take effect on March 1, Plaz told the local Globovision television channel.
Delta Airlines currently services a daily route from Simon Bolivar International Airport to Atlanta while Continental Airlines has daily flights to Houston and weekly flights to New York. American Airlines services daily routes to Puerto Rico and Miami.

A spokesperson for the Venezuelan Association of Airlines, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the three U.S.-based airlines received notification of the ban on Thursday.

(AP) Venezuela Bars Two U.S. Airlines | WKRN.COM.

Air Touring – Pro’s and Con’s

FlightseeingAir Touring is becoming wildly popular as people are loving the opportunity to see  the area they are vacationing in from the air in a helicopter, hot air balloon, or light airplane. The air touring or flightseeing industry has grown to a 600 million dollar a year industry with over 2 million people partaking of it. So it is a wonderful and fun way to see the a new region that typically is a beautiful place to look at.

But there are drawbacks to air touring as an article in Conde Nast Traveler explains.

Most people assume that all such companies in the United States operate under the same rules. In fact, while the majority are governed by FAA safety requirements known as Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135, others may operate under far less rigorous standards, known as Part 91, provided their aircraft take off and land from the same point and do not travel beyond a 25-mile radius. This means that anyone with a commercial pilot’s license and a plane can open a flightseeing business.

But not only mom-and-pop shops fly under Part 91 rules. More than a dozen air-tour companies ply the skies of Hawaii, the busiest airspace in the country after the Grand Canyon’s, and several of them are Part 91 operators. Until recently, these included Bali Hai HelicopterTours, one of whose choppers smashed into a mountain in central Kauai in September 2004, killing all five people on board (the company has since ceased operations). The helicopter that went down while touring Lower Manhattan on June 14 was also being flown under Part 91 regulations, as was the Cessna airplane that crashed during a sightseeing trip over Coney Island. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) statistics for air-tour accidents in 2004 indicate that 22 of the 28 involved companies were operating under Part 91. Nine of these accidents involved hot-air balloons. via Conde Nast Traveler

Now with more people using these services the rate of accidents can remain the same yet the number of accidents can increase, so these statistics can be confusing and scary.

My advice if you are interested in air touring, do a little research and find the more reputable company. If they cost a little more, there may be a reason. Also, if you are traveling overseas, do even more research. They do not operate under the same regulations that are required in the United States so there may be more risks involved.