A ruling in the Northeast Alliance antitrust suit, American Airlines flight attendants troubled by the “ConnectMe” app, new service and routes from Breeze Airways, Republic Airways to fine pilots who leave early, Cessna Citation Ascend unveiled, and a YouTuber charged in the crash of his plane.
In a May 19, 2023 ruling, the judge in the Northeast Alliance antitrust suit determined that the Alliance “substantially diminishes competition in the domestic market for air travel.” The Department of Justice alleged that by codesharing and collaborating to run complementary route networks through New York and Boston, the Northeast Alliance would “eliminate significant competition between American and JetBlue that has led to lower fares and higher quality service for consumers traveling to and from those airports.” Unless the ruling is appealed, the Alliance must end within 30 days.
In his ruling [PDF], Judge Sorokin says:
In the first months of 2020, executives at American Airlines and JetBlue negotiated and signed a first-of-its-kind alliance, in which the two carriers essentially agreed to operate as one airline for most of their flights in and out of New York City and Boston.
This case turns on what “competition” means. To the defendants, competition is enhanced if they join forces to unseat a powerful rival. The Sherman Act, however, has a different focus. Federal antitrust law is not concerned with making individual competitors larger or more powerful. It aims to preserve the free functioning of markets and foster participation by a diverse array of competitors. Those principles are generally undermined, rather than promoted, by agreements among horizontal competitors to dispense with competition and cooperate instead. That is precisely what happened here.
In May 2022, American Airlines announced they were partnering with Microsoft “to use technology to create better, more connected experiences for customers and American Airlines team members… American will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform for its airline applications and key workloads.”
American Airlines Flight Attendants Say Mobile App Designed to Improve On-time Performance is a ‘Hazard to Passenger Safety’
Now the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) representing American Airlines flight attendants takes issue with the Airline’s “ConnectMe” app. The mandatory internal messaging app works within Microsoft Teams and allows flight attendants to communicate with gate agents, pilots, and engineers during pre-boarding and boarding.
The union says they didn’t have any input into the use of ConnectMe, interruptions through the app are a distraction, and there is a “constant barrage of texts [which] prioritizes another department’s objectives over safety which should be first and foremost.”
LCC Breeze Airways is announcing new cabin features, a new class of service, and the launch of some new routes. The “Breeze Ascend” first-class section upgrades its previous “Nicest Fare” seats. It will be introduced on its A220 aircraft and offer more space, premium seats and cocktails, and free snacks. Onboard WiFi is coming to the A220 fleet through Viasat satellite internet. The price is TBD and the rollout is expected to be complete by early 2024. See Cranky’s comments on this in Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: WestJet Fights off Strike, Breeze Gets Even Nicer, and More…
The new Republic Airways New First Officer Career Advancement Pathway Program Agreement is designed to retain pilots, but it comes with some provisions:
- Pilots must stay with the regional airline for at least three years.
- After one year, pilots may have the opportunity to graduate to the captain position but will need to fly as much as they can in order to do so.
- New hires are committing to being a captain for two years.
- Pilots who voluntarily break the agreement and leave the airline before the three-year mark are subject to a $100,000 fine.
- If a pilot resigns before the three-year mark, they are not allowed to work for any other competing airline within a year.
Teamsters, the union representing the airline’s pilots, filed a grievance against Republic, saying the agreement is problematic.
The fifth-generation Citation 560XL arrives in 2025 at a price of $16.7 million. Changes include a new and larger flight deck and cabin windows, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545D engines, and interior improvements. The APU now is approved for unattended operation and the cockpit incorporates the latest version of the Garmin G5000 integrated flight deck, as well as Garmin’s 3D exocentric view airport diagrams on PFDs, including runway and taxiway signs, obstacle symbols, and building images.
Santa Barbara County Man Who Deliberately Crashed Airplane for YouTube Video Admits to Obstructing Federal Investigation
It’s a felony charge for the YouTuber who deliberately abandoned his plane in 2021 and recorded the event while he parachuted out, in an effort to get views.
AeroXplorer (previously TheExplorerBlog) is an aviation photography and news source that provides industry news and an airframe photography database with more than 30,000 photos. They have a map showing many airports. Click on one and see spotting photos from that airport.
Brian Shul, our guest from Episode 375 (2015) died on May 20, 2023. He was an Air Force fighter pilot, flew A-7D, flew A-10, taught at the Air Force’s TopGun school in the F-5B, and became an SR-71 spy plane pilot.
National Air & Space Museum Innovations in Flight – Outdoor Aviation Display.
Hosts this Episode
Max Flight, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.