Earlier today the FAA proposed levying multimillion-dollar fines against United Airlines and US Airways for safety violations, including flying a plane after mechanics stuffed shop towels into an engine.
The agency is proposing to slap US Airways with a $5.4 million fine for operating 8 planes that conducted 1,647 flights from October 2008 to January 2009 that were in violation of safety or maintenance rules. United may get hit with a $3.8 million fine for operating a Boeing 737 on more than 200 flights with shop towels covering openings near where oil collects in the bottom of the engine instead of using protective caps required by the carrier’s maintenance procedures.
According to FAA rules, the airlines have 30 days to plead their case before the agency can impose the fines. Perhaps United should it explain that it wasn’t actually a towel, but a Sham-wow. I think they’ll see the genius in that.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- Reuters is reporting that there’s been an industry-wide increase of domestic air fares. The fare increase, initiated on Tuesday by American Airlines, represents a boost in round-trip ticket prices by as much as $16 for a large number of U.S. city pairs. The increase saw matches from Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and US Airways.
- The L.A. Times’ Daily Travel & Deal Blog notes that Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and JetBlue are all offering $44 fares on flights within California and to Las Vegas (from California). Check out their blog for details on each of these sales.
- The New York Times blog In Transit notes that, “When shopping for airfare, it’s easy to overlook smaller, unfamiliar carriers. But those so-called B airlines may offer the best deal.” One such “B airline” is a new one from Richard Branson’s Virgin Blue Group called, V Australia. They’re now competing with United and Qantas by offering non-stop flights to destinations down under.
- Nashville International Airport Police had to shackle an unruly passenger by the wrists and ankles to get him off a Delta airliner after it made an unscheduled landing there on Tuesday. According to witnesses, the man would not allow the person sitting next to him to leave her seat to use the restroom. So, the next time you’re torn between choosing a window seat and an isle seat, think of this dude’s mug-shot and choose the isle. I’d gladly take the beverage cart in the elbow a 1000 times before asking this guy for permission to go to the john.
According to the 2010 American Express Business Travel forecast released today, airfares will go up around the globe next year as airlines pare their schedules and demand revives, but average hotel rates should fall in most regions.
American Express Business Travel said overall ticket prices will increase by up to 5 percent globally for economy class short-haul flights. Business class long-haul fares are projected to increase by 1 to 6 percent. In North America, ticket prices are expected to rise between 2 and 7 percent in economy class and 1 to 6 percent in business class.
But while most passengers will be paying more for airfare, the forecast said hotels will be forced to cut rates further as they try to draw more customers back. In North America, mid-range rates are expected to fall by 1 to 4 percent. Upper-range hotel prices in North America are projected to decline by 3 to 6 percent.
The 2010 Forecast is based on a number of sources, including the American Express Business Travel Monitor, the American Express contracted rates database, transaction reports, Smith Travel Research Global Hotel Reviews and NBTA-IHS Global Insights business travel market sizing research.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- American Airlines flight 1318 is being held at Logan International Airport this afternoon for inspection after a threatening note was found in the lavatory of the plane. The plane, a Boeing 757, was being boarded for a 2:30 p.m. flight to Miami when a flight attendant found the threatening note. The note is reported to have read, “Bomb on board, Boston to Miami flight.” The people who had already begun boarding Flight 1318 were taken off the plane. The plane was taken away from its gate and brought to a runway where it is currently being checked.
- Southwest Airlines’s Winter Fare Sale has flights starting at $59 one way. Flights must be purchased by Oct. 15 for travel through Feb. 11, excluding Fridays, Sundays and most holidays. A 14-day advance purchase is required.
- The Orlando Magic and AirTran Airways announced a new, multi-year relationship in which the airline will become a “Champions of the Community” partner for the Orlando Magic’s new Amway Center. Starting this season, AirTran will receive branding in key aspects of Magic marketing and communications, including in-arena interactive elements and signage, radio, print and Internet promotion.
A recent report from the Associated Press notes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations would require airports to capture at least some of the deicing fluid after it is used to rid planes of ice and snow. The agency says those rules would reduce by 22 percent the discharge of chemicals, which lower oxygen levels in waterways and prevent fish and other aquatic creatures from breathing.
Not every airport lets the chemicals drain off the tarmac uncollected, but those that do range from some of the nation’s largest — including John F. Kennedy in New York and Chicago’s O’Hare — to small regional airports such as the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids.
Under the EPA’s proposed regulations, six of the nation’s 14 major airports that are the biggest users of deicing fluid — JKF, O’Hare, Cleveland-Hopkins International, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, Boston Logan International and LaGuardia Airport in New York — would have to install deicing “pads” or other collection systems to contain 60 percent of fluid sprayed. The airports would then have to make sure the collected liquid was treated to remove any toxins.
About 200 smaller airports would be required to collect 20 percent of the fluid by using technologies such as a glycol recovery vehicle, which is basically a vacuum that sucks up the chemical. Airports with less than 1,000 annual jet departures wouldn’t be affected.
Under existing rules, adopted in the 1990s, airports are required to minimize contamination of stormwater runoff and must monitor for pollutants, including deicing fluid. Some states have required additional measures when reports showed high levels of the chemicals.
Here’s some more travel news you can use:
- According to the Associated Press, passengers will see big changes from American Airlines, including increased flying in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami, but fewer flights in Raleigh/Durham, N.C. and St. Louis, where American is giving up major ground to Southwest Airlines. AA will add 57 daily flights at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, 6 new destinations from JFK International Airport in New York, 2 new daily American and Eagle flights at Los Angeles and 19 daily departures added at Dallas/Forth Worth. American and Eagle also will add 23 flights at Miami. In St. Louis, AA and its regional affiliates will reduce daily departures by 46 and discontinue service to 20 destinations. After the reductions, AA and Eagle will provide 36 departures per day to 9 destinations. In Raleigh/Durham, service to three destinations will be discontinued and a total of 9 departures will be eliminated. Raleigh/Durham will continue to provide service to 8 destinations with 44 departures per day.
- The New York Times reports that British Airways, the largest carrier between Europe and the United States, is starting a business-class-only service from London to New York on Tuesday and may eliminate some shorter flights to restore earnings. Trips like London to Paris, the route on which British Airways pioneered the first international air service in 1919, may be among the first to go because of the shrinking profit margins and the impact of the competing Eurostar high-speed rail service.
- Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the hero of US Airways’ splash landing in the Hudson, is winging his way to a management position with the airline. Sullenberger will return to work with the new title of “management pilot” and a seat reserved on the airline’s flight operations safety management team.